B – L – O – A – T – I – N – G
Do you sometimes need to undo your belt after a meal?
Or do you plan ahead and wear yoga pants or loose pants to accommodate the bloat?
Do you sometimes look like you’re pregnant (with a food baby!) after eating?
Does any of this sound familiar?
I can answer YES to all of these.
I even documented one of these many occasions here
after gaining a few inches within a few minutes of eating amaranth…
Now I know better but I know that SO MANY PEOPLE are still struggling with bloat.
If not every day.
If not at EVERY single meal!
Bloating is NOT normal
Bloating is another of these common symptoms too many people struggle with.
But common does not equal normal.
In fact, bloating is a red flag indicating a deeper issue with your digestion.
Your body is trying to communicate one of these important messages:
- You can’t properly digest and absorb your food, and/or
- The food you eat is causing inflammation and damaging your gut, and/or
- Your gut flora is off balance and is fermenting your food inside your gut
(this can include SIBO/small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or a candida infection).
The cause of your bloating could include one or all of these 3 factors.
But the end result is the same:
- feeling discomfort or even pain,
- not properly digesting & absorbing the nutrients your body need to function optimally, and
- feeding and perpetuating your gut dysbiosis (imbalanced gut flora).
Here are the 5 mistakes you’re making that make you B – L – O – A – T and what you can do to start improving your digestion and get rid of the bloat starting today.
1. Not having a meal ritual.
A meal ritual? What does that even mean?
Well, the act of eating today is very different than what it used to look like. We can eat anywhere and anytime. It can be at your desk, on the couch trying to balance your laptop on your lap, in the car on your way to somewhere… it is NEVER the same!
Contrast that with a few decades ago when we would take the time to cook almost every single meal from scratch, sit down at the family table, usually in the company of other people, and possibly even say a prayer before eating. Now, we can pop food in the microwave and it’s ready to eat within a couple of minutes.
Our brain and body don’t have time to realize it’s time to eat and to get ready to digest a meal.
⇨ And inadequate digestion can easily lead to… BLOATING!
It’s easier for your digestive system to function optimally when you give it a heads-up. Thinking about food is not enough. You need to see food, smell food and follow a certain meal ritual that will give your digestive system the cues it needs.
I’m not saying you have to go back to your great-grand-parents’ time but there are simple strategies you can put into place to help prepare your body for adequate digestion (and avoid the bloat).
Here are a few of the simple things you can include as part of your meal ritual:
★ Eating at more regular times.
★ Finding a quiet and relaxing space to eat.
★ Planning at least 20 minutes (ideally 30) for your meal.
★ Taking five deep breaths when sitting in front of your plate.
★ Thinking of three things you are grateful for before starting to eat.
These things are so simple and do not have to take long at all. These habits are incredibly powerful at activating your parasympathetic nervous system (your rest-and-digest mode) which is too often taken over by our sympathetic nervous system (your fight-or-flight mode).
Which of these do you think is best for you to digest well and not end up bloated?
2. Not chewing (or eating foods that do not require chewing).
Did you know that your stomach doesn’t have teeth?
Seriously! Many of clients seem to dismiss this simple but important details.
⇨ How long does it take you to eat?
If it takes you less than 5 minutes, chances are you are not chewing enough.
Your digestive system is powerful but your mouth, jaws and teeth have their part to contribute for this whole system to work at its best, especially if you want to make sure you properly absorb the nutrients and that you avoid excessive fermentation that is often the cause of your bloat.
Eating foods that do not require chewing maybe another part of the problem.
And by that, I don’t necessarily mean things like smoothies which are already pre-chewed by the blender for you and therefore relatively easy to digest (depending on the ingredients of course).
What I mean is foods that are so heavily processed with refined ingredients (think flours, gluten, sugars, vegetable oils, etc) that they are actually impossible to chew long enough. These are the foods that are pre-chewed for you by the food industry.
Eating these foods means:
★ that you skip the #1 rule I talked above,
★ that you don’t chew very much and
★ that you’re eating ingredients that are very likely to trigger intestinal inflammation,
increased permeability (leaky gut) and feed an imbalanced gut flora.
I don’t think you need to start counting how many times you chew a bite when eating.
I actually hate that! Rather focus on eating the right food and just give you enough time.
After preparing your body for a meal (rule #1 above), chewing is the next most important stage of the digestive process. Besides making sure the food particles are small enough to be digestible, it also encourages your body to prepare by producing enough stomach acid and releasing the digestive enzymes it needs.
3. Grazing all day long.
⇨ How many meals do you typically eat?
5-6 mini-meals? 3 square meals? Or is your whole day is a long never-ending meal?
Your digestive system is meant to work and then rest.
By eating all day long, even if the amounts are small, your digestive system never gets its well-deserved break. And it needs that break to do some repair and maintenance as well as some sweeping to remove debris and excessive amount of bacteria that might make their way into the small intestines.
So many people suffering from bloating actually have a form of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) caused by SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). This is actually something I dealt with myself. Bloating is one of the most common symptom of SIBO.
A good way to better support your digestive system’s natural ability to prevent bacteria from overgrowing in your small intestines is to space your meals by 4-6 hours.
If you get hungry within 2-3 hours, it’s probably because you aren’t eating enough. So… eat more!
It’s also a good idea to give your digestive system a good 12-hour break overnight, which means no eating between dinner and breakfast.
4. Being scared of stomach acid.
We always hear about how scary and painful it can be to have too much stomach acid, especially in the commercials and ads of the (too) many anti-acid medications on the market.
But did you know that stomach acid is actually good for you? It’s even better than that.
Stomach acid is ESSENTIAL to the digestion process.
And I would even dare to say that there are WAY more people suffering because of a lack, not a surplus, of stomach acid. Even problems like heartburn, acid reflux and GERD are often caused by a lack of stomach acid (which is an important signal to tell your lower esophageal sphincter or the lid between your stomach and esophagus to stay shut while you’re digesting your meal).
And not having enough stomach acid can also cause bloating by preventing you from properly breaking down the food you eat (which causes a lot of inflammation and fermentation in your gut) and by contributing to overgrowth of bacteria within your small intestines (SIBO).
Here’s how you can encourage healthy levels of acidity in your stomach and fight the bloat:
★ Don’t drink liquids too close to your meals to avoid diluting your stomach acid.
★ Take 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (ideally organic) diluted in a small amount of water 5-15 minutes before each protein-containing meal.
★ Add sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice before or to your meals (make sure it’s traditionally fermented and not pasteurized to the extra benefits of the gut-friendly bacteria it provides).
★ Relax when eating. Rules #1 and #2 can certainly help here. Your stomach can’t produce sufficient levels of stomach acidity unless it is in the paraympathetic mode. So take five deep breaths and think of three things you’re truly grateful for.
★ Supplement with betaine HCl. For some people, replacing what’s missing, at least temporarily, might be the best solution to start working on healing the gut.
5. Sucking it in and sitting too much.
Our modern lives can’t prevent our digestion from being as smooth as it should be.
Too much sitting or trying to suck our stomach in to look slimmer or to compensate for our bloated look can all be counter-productive.
The extra pressure put on our stomach, intestines and other digestive organs can make their jobs a lot harder.
This is NOT my area of expertise. Food is. However, I worked with so many people over the years that I know how big of an impact this can have. If you don’t believe me, hop over to the best biomechanist in the world (Katy Bowman) and read her blog posts humorously titled:
I highly recommend ALL her books too. Really, I’m a BIG fan of her work!
⇨ Simple stretching, changing position as often as you can, yoga and learning how to activate your transverse abdominal to keep your core strong without putting a halt to your digestion.
Abdominal massages and using a squatty potty to go for your #2 can also really help with bloating and digestive issues. There’s hope!
Can I really get rid of the bloat?
Yes you can! I did and so many of my clients have too!
I know posts like this one can be overwhelming but you don’t have to digest it all at once. Take a bite here and there. Just make sure that you do TRY something and give it enough time to see if it works!
For some people, 2-3 of these things will get rid of the bloat. Others might need to make a few more tweaks to get there. But the bottom line is that any of the things listed above can help make a difference in improving your digestion and end the bloat.
If none of these things work, you need help and may need more guidance from a professional to investigate potential food sensitivities or a chronic gut infection like SIBO.
How’s your bloat?
Have you tried any of these strategies?
What has worked best for you? Were you able to get rid of your bloating?
I want to know! Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment below. 🙂
p.s. Share this post if you know someone suffering from bloating.
Bloating is not only about the way we look, it’s a sign of deeper digestive issues that
require our attention. Let’s not ignore the signals our wise body is sending us.